View Vacancy -- Senior Contracts Manager - Operations Group - Josie Gowler - LMB 1208

Open Date
01/11/2019, 12:00
Close Date
01/12/2019, 23:55
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is one of the birthplaces of modern molecular biology and has played an important role in the development of many new techniques, most notably protein crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, DNA sequencing and monoclonal antibodies.  The LMB has a clear goal of understanding biological processes at the molecular level, with the ultimate aim of using this knowledge to tackle specific problems in human health and disease.  We aim to tackle difficult, long-term problems, which often require investment over many years.

There are four scientific Divisions - Structural Studies, Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Cell Biology and Neurobiology.  However, scientific collaboration between the different Divisions is extensive.  Scientists are well supported by excellent scientific facilities and by the LMB Operations Group which maintains the core infrastructure and services of the institute.

The LMB provides an unsurpassed environment for both new and established researchers.  Scientists are drawn to the LMB from all over the world, thus creating a lively and international community for the exchange of ideas and technical innovation.

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, more information can be found at

MRC - 3
£40,551 - £44,968 (more experienced candidates may be awarded up to £51,595)
Technical & Scientific Professionals
Full Time

Overall purpose:

To lead a team in supporting scientific staff at LMB for research contracts and agreements, technology transfer, industrial collaborations, strategic partnerships and external funding applications. The team also provides advice in the requirements of research ethics and research governance policies.

Most of the research groups attract external funding from a variety of sources, and/or engage in collaborative research, exchange materials or data, or undertake studies requiring ethical approval. All such activities bring a need for formal contracts and agreements, which serve both to facilitate the research, and to protect the interests of the MRC and the research staff. Support in these areas is provided through a dedicated research office comprising the LMB Senior Contracts Manager and 4-5 other staff, working closely with colleagues from UKRI and LifeArc, MRC’s technology transfer partner.

Key to the success of this role will be the ability to combine an understanding of the research of the LMB, and the potential and implications for collaboration or exploitation, with extensive experience of research contract negotiation and management in this fast-paced environment.

Main duties / key responsibilities:

  • Management of the research grants and contracts advisory service
  • To negotiate research contracts and agreements for the LMB involving balancing competing interests such as: protecting academic freedom to operate (use of results and intellectual property, publication); maximising the opportunities for translation and knowledge transfer, and where possible exploitation, while protecting MRC IP; funder’s/sponsor’s terms and conditions; ensuring confidentiality; managing risk through negotiation of warranties, liabilities and indemnities; ensuring compliance with MRC policies, procedures and best practice; recording research governance arrangements, requiring a good knowledge of applicable legislation and guidance and explaining how these apply to the research being proposed.
  • To approve and sign legally binding contracts for the LMB, subject to MRC delegated authority limits. Such contracts include Collaboration Agreements, Material Transfer Agreements, Licence agreements, Data Sharing Agreements, consultancy agreements and Confidentiality Agreements.
  • To review submissions for external funding applications, noting and negotiating any unusual terms and conditions.
  • To support and facilitate collaborative working with industry, including a major joint strategic programme with AstraZeneca (AZ).
  • Building on a good understanding of the research portfolio in the LMB, to take a proactive role in assisting with the identification and promotion of opportunities for technology transfer, including the requirement for evaluation and protection of intellectual property. This requires a good knowledge of the various forms of intellectual property rights common to a research environment. It will involve close working with LifeArc, the MRC’s technology transfer partner.
  • To identify and support due diligence and contractual issues associated with the transfer into or out of LMB of individual research leaders/groups.
  • To promote and advise staff on the requirements of Research Ethics and Research Governance Framework policies and guidance. Keeping up-to-date knowledge of requirements pertinent to research in the LMB (in association with the MRC Regulatory Support Centre).
  • Lead the process for novating contracts from MRC (legacy body) to UKRI and manage staff archiving and reviewing old records as part of this project.
  • Promotion of all aspects of the contracts service; seeking to raise awareness of possibilities for external funding, collaborations, exploitation and requirements to ensure adequate protection of MRC’s interests.
  • Supporting exploitation of inventions and intellectual property through provision of guidance and information, including through the intranet and in presentations and being the first point of contact for invention disclosures.

Other duties

  • Awards to Inventors - overseeing the administration of the MRC’s scheme to reward inventors.
  • Management Information - overseeing the effective and efficient administration of all Research Office records including database management. Ensuring records are kept to provide audit trails and accessibility as required.
  • Staff Management – responsible for staff providing management, career development and performance review.

Working relationships:

  • LMB Director
  • Senior Scientists in the LMB
  • External Funding Team and other members of LMB Finance Team
  • MRC and UKRI Head Office staff
  • LifeArc
  • MRC Regulatory Support Centre
  • Funding bodies / sponsors and other third-party organisations
  • Equivalent roles in external organisations

Reporting lines

  • Reports to the LMB Head of Finance and Research Contracts.
  • Has line management responsibility for 4-5 more junior staff
  • Works collaboratively with the other staff of the Research Office, and with members of the Operations Group in the LMB.

Additional information:

The post holder has considerable autonomy in the drafting, negotiation and execution of contracts, and is expected to bring a wide range of expert knowledge to bear on ensuring these are in the best interests of the MRC, such that income generation is protected and liabilities managed.

The post holder will often encounter situations for which there is no immediate precedent, and for which analysis and assessment of risks will be needed to determine the most appropriate course of action, and the terms and structure of agreements for recommendation to the LMB Director, or in dialogue with LifeArc.

There are often pressing timescales for the contracts under negotiation, and the post holder will need to enjoy the challenge of working across many activities simultaneously, and meeting tight deadlines, and be able to assign time in accordance with risk.

Education / Qualifications / Training required:

A first degree or equivalent, preferably in a biological or related sciences subject

• Qualification in law
• Experience (or higher degree) in biological sciences or other relevant research areas

Previous work experience required:

• Extensive experience of drafting, negotiating and management of relevant contracts and agreements (several years experience)
• Experience of working in a fast paced environment and managing a large portfolio
• Leading teams

Extensive contract drafting and management in a scientific environment

Knowledge and experience:

• Sound understanding of intellectual property rights
• Good analytical ability and confidence to make decision when faced with complex casework
• Knowledge/experience of/exposure to intellectual property management

• Experience in negotiating research contracts incorporating research governance/ethics provision
• Experience of vetting contracts and being an authorised signatory
• Experience of working in the public sector

Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:

• Able to understand the research portfolio of the LMB
• Very good interpersonal skills and able to interact with staff at all levels
• Ability to put across difficult concepts or different points of view while retaining the confidence of senior staff
• Excellent negotiating skills, able to respond quickly in discussion
• Good team player
• Organised and with an eye for detail
• Good time management skills and ability to set and juggle priorities to meet deadlines
• Self-motivated
• Ability to develop and motivate staff

Ability to implement change

The MRC is a great place to work and progress your career, be it in scientific research or the support functions.The MRC is a unique working environment where our researchers are rewarded by world class innovation and collaboration opportunities that the MRC name brings. The MRC is an excellent place to develop yourself further and a range of training & development opportunities will be available to you, including professional registration with the Science Council.

Choosing to come to work at the MRC (part of UKRI) means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement to access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme, as well as the chance to put the MRC and UKRI on your CV in the future.

Our success is dependent upon our ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of all our people. We welcome applications from all sections of the community irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. As "Disability Confident" employers, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

We will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.